I had a girlfriend ask me this morning for new activities to do with her 18 month old. She said she feels as though she gets stuck in a rut and the same routine can become challenging for her active little girl.
I decided to compile a list of structured activities that I do with my 18 month old. Here are a few:
- Coloring: Cooper enjoys scribbling and most of all putting the cap on and off. I try and draw a picture and explain what I’ve drawn; sun, water, birds, grass, trees etc.
- Sorting “puff” balls by colors. You can get them at the dollar store.
- Kitchen bowls filled with different items i.e. different beans and pasta.
Letting them stir these items and transfer to different size bowls helps them feel as if they are involved while you cook. You can also use three or four different Tupperware containers that they can match the lids to as well.
- Allowing your child to help bake with you.
Yes it becomes messy but is very enjoyable for them. I was rolling out pizza crust and Cooper sat on the counter playing with the flour. Mind you the kitchen looked as if a snow storm hit. It was actually really fun to watch him “measure” the flour.
- Playing with my button jar. I have a jar full of buttons for decoration but Cooper has turned it into a toy. :)
This allows him to see different sizes and learn colors. Also teaches him how to sort and place them back in the jar
- Playing with his farm
Learning which sound goes with which animal.
- Water sensory activities
Fill a shallow tub with water and let your child play with different objects while not being immersed in the water.
- Letting your little one help “fold” clothes or put them into the washing machine or dryer. Cooper enjoys handing me the clothes that I am folding and he enjoys me handing him socks or shirts to stuff into the dryer or washer.
- Shapes and sizes. If you have a toy that is for matching shapes or wooden puzzles this helps them feel like they accomplished the task.
Just a few ideas! I used to teach at a Montessori school and engaging the children as young as 9 months made me realize how young children can be in order to comprehend activities that seem beyond their age. Every child is different and every child will learn at their own pace, but engaging them in activities helps you learn what they are soaking in.
The little children at the Montessori school were able to sit at a table and chair for meal time. They knew if they got up their food would be taken from them which reinforced them to stay sitting if they were hungry. We also taught sign language for basic concepts such as: please, thank you, all done, more and eat. I’ve taught this to Cooper and it has been entirely helpful.
The whole concept of Montessori thinking is to engage our children at a young age to do it on their own, ask for help and be creative with their toys and imagination. I agree with parts of the Montessori thinking and think some of the ideas are very productive while others can be, well- shall we say simply not my style. Every parent has to learn what is best for them and their child.
All in all I have noticed that routine can be challenging for our little toddlers when it comes to toys. They want to be played with, learn how to “do what we do,” and have different activities on different days.